85% of Welsh Consumers admit they wouold be unable to spot if a brand is ‘greenwashing’

  • Consumer research by online investment service, Wealthify, also found that 73% of people in Wales believe that brands commit to causes to appear ‘woke’ or ‘greener’ 
  • More than half of Welsh consumers deem ethical products too expensive to be more ethical in daily lives  

A new survey has revealed that consumers are not always alert when a company is misleading in their environmental credentials.

85% of Welsh consumers have admitted to being unsure or unable to identify when a brand is ‘greenwashing’, and when asked if they think brands commit to causes to appear more woke or ‘greener’, 73% agreed with this.

While 71% of Welsh consumers agreed that supporting ethical and sustainable brands in their day-to-day lives is important, more than half of people (55%) view ethical and sustainable products as too expensive to shop more ethically in their day-to-day lives. Ironically, however, when asked if they would be willing to pay more for a product that’s ethical or sustainable, 59% said they would be.

The survey was carried out by online investment ser, Wealthify, a subsidiary of the Aviva group, which provides customers with the best option to invest in organisations committed to having a positive impact on society and the environment. It comes ahead of Earth Day (22nd April), which aims to raise awareness of global action for the good of the planet’s environment.

One in four (26%) rely on word of mouth as a way of discovering if a brand is ‘green’, whilst most (43%) rely on an endorsement by a trusted source such as Ethical Consumer or the ethical Good On You App.

Michelle Pearce-Burke, COO at Wealthify, said: “We know that conscious consumerism is on the rise. Coronavirus encouraged many of us to shop more locally and ethically than in pre-pandemic times. We also see this reflected in the investment decisions being made by an increasing number of our customers.

“Our survey has established that this is the case. Most of us, including Welsh consumers,  believe that supporting ethical and sustainable brands in our day-to-day lives is important. What’s interesting is that the majority of us are unable to identify if a brand is ‘greenwashing’ and many of us agree that brands commit to causes to appear ‘greener’.

“This, paired with the fact that many people continue to find ethical and sustainable products too expensive to make these types of products a bigger focus of their day-to-day lives, indicates a potential need for more education around what ethical and sustainable brands stand for and the value for money people receive in spending more on a more sustainable product. More visibility of ethical products on our high streets could help.”

The survey findings also unveiled:

  • More than one in three (35%) of Welsh consumers feel social pressure to be more ethical in day-to-day life. This was on par with consumers in East Anglia. Londoners feel the most pressure (57%).
  • Cruelty-free products (64%), affordability (46%), zero waste solutions (40%), locally and ethically sourced materials (39%), being a Living Wage employer who values the health and wellbeing of its staff (37%), and brands that don’t invest in harmful/environmental issues like tobacco, arms and fossil fuels (35%) are top of people in Wales’ shopping lists when it comes to deciding on which ethical brands to shop with.
  • £42.51 is the average amount of money Welsh shoppers spend on ethical brands each month, with the most spent on food & drink brands (63%), energy providers (20%), beauty products (20%), sustainable living (i.e., furniture, household items etc. (11%) and fashion brands (8%).
  • Those in Northern Ireland spend the most (£53.52) and those in Yorkshire and the Humber the least (£37.54)
  • 29% of Welsh consumers said supporting ethical and sustainable brands isn’t important to them.
  • 28% admitted that ethical shopping isn’t at the forefront of their minds, while 23% said they’re not sure where to start looking for products and 10% said the stores they shop in don’t offer the range of products they want.
  • 9% rely on endorsement by an influential figure such as a celebrity or influencer and 7% rely on social media content and to determine if a brand is ethical.

Michelle Pearce-Burke, COO at Wealthify, continued: “The significant increase we have seen in customers opting for our ethical investment plans over the past year has meant that their uptake is now outstripping our standard investment plans by almost two to one. What’s more, investment returns on our ethical plans last year actually outperformed our original investments, demonstrating the added value of consuming, purchasing or investing ethically.”

To mark Earth Day, Wealthify has created an ethical shopping and investment guide to help consumers navigate living more sustainably. This includes two league tables; one that features growing ethical businesses that are going from strength to strength and one focused on big brands that inspire when it comes to sustainability activities.

Wealthify will also be planting one tree for every new Ethical investment Plan opened during Earth Day week.